The Best Online Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Programs

TBS Staff Writers
Updated October 23, 2023
A civil engineering bachelor's degree teaches students how to design society's infrastructure. Learn more about civil engineering programs for you.

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Online Civil Engineering Degree

A civil engineering bachelor’s degree teaches students how to design society’s infrastructure. Graduates go on to start careers as civil or environmental engineers, technologists, or technicians. Civil engineering is one of the most important fields of engineering. But what is civil engineering?

Civil engineers design infrastructure: roads, bridges, dams, and other structures that enable energy production, transportation, and communications. Like all engineers, civil engineers need training and education. Consider earning an online civil engineering degree to launch your career as a civil engineer.

An online civil engineering degree covers:

  • Advanced mathematics
  • Advanced topics in mechanics
  • Structural analysis
  • Civil engineering project processes and ethics

Read on for a ranking of the best civil engineering programs from online colleges nationwide. You’ll also learn about what a civil engineering degree can offer you, from specializations to expected pay.

Featured Online Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Programs

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The Best Online Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Programs

The school and/or program descriptions below were drafted using natural language generation technology and have been edited for clarity and accuracy. The data is primarily sourced from government databases such as IPEDS – see sources section for more details.

#1 The Best Online Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Location-markerGrand Forks, ND
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,540
  • Out-of-state$12,810
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate87%
  • Students Enrolled13,615
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes
Rankings Methodology

What Is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is a subfield of engineering concerned with societal infrastructure. Civil engineers design, build, and maintain roads, dams, bridges, and other structures that keep society running smoothly.

What Is an Online Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Degree?

An online bachelor’s in civil engineering degree prepares learners for work as civil or environmental engineers. Students develop skills in project management, critical thinking, and teamwork as they study advanced topics in math, physics, and engineering. The degree typically takes full-time students four years to complete.

Online civil engineering programs often offer specialized degree concentrations such as geotechnical engineering, water resources engineering, and structural engineering. Make sure to choose the right engineering program to find the right concentration for your needs.

What to Expect as a Civil Engineering Major

While online civil engineering degrees vary in terms of course offerings, specializations, and length, most programs share common characteristics. Coursework mixes practical and theoretical learning and is often divided between class time and on-site study. Students in this major frequently work in groups and employ simulation software to visualize engineering concepts.

Civil engineering majors study advanced mathematical topics like calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. Civil engineering students also study advanced topics in physics, including fluid mechanics and mechanics of materials. Course loads for this major may be challenging.

Civil Engineering Curriculum

  • Intro to Civil Engineering: Students learn about fundamentals of civil engineering, including the importance of teamwork and civil engineering ethics. Graphic visualization software figures heavily into course content.
  • Linear Algebra and Differential Equations: This course covers foundational knowledge of linear algebra and differential equation models, and how they apply to designing and analyzing load-bearing structures. Learners learn about differential equation models that correspond to concepts such as elasticity and kinematics.
  • Fluid Mechanics: This class offers an overview of the fundamental behavior of fluids, particularly water. Students learn to apply fluid mechanics to civil engineering structures such as pipelines, hydraulic structures, and turbines and pumps.
  • Structural Analysis: This introductory course tackles methods for analyzing structural systems. Learners investigate how loads affect components of large-scale structures. They then use computer software to study the effects of virtual loads and forces on virtual structures.
  • Mechanics of Materials: This class explores how stationary structures respond to applied loads. Course topics include continuum stress and strain, truss forces, and beam bending. Students learn about civil engineering from a materials perspective.
  • Soil Mechanics: This course investigates the mechanical behavior of soil and how it responds to and supports human structures such as buildings, dams, and bridges. Students gain foundational knowledge for geotechnical engineering analysis.

Choosing an Online Civil Engineering Program

When choosing an online civil engineering program, consider factors that can influence your online educational experience. Only give serious consideration to programs from schools you can reasonably afford. Determine if the degree’s length fits your timeline and if it features asynchronous or synchronous courses. Also be sure to check out programs’ available concentrations to see if their offerings meet your needs.

For civil engineering, attend a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). If you do not, you might not receive job offers or have the ability to earn necessary licensure.

Civil Engineer Licensure

Entry-level civil engineer work does not require licensure. However, civil engineering leadership roles in most states require professional engineer (PE) licensure from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. PEs need a bachelor’s degree and four years of supervised experience under a PE before passing their PE exam.

State licensure requirements can vary. Some states, including New York and Florida, require PEs to take continuing education to renew their licenses every two years.

Civil Engineering Career Overviews

One of the advantages of earning a degree in civil engineering is its diverse applications to careers in other engineering fields. An online civil engineering degree can help you get a job not only as a civil engineer, but also as an environmental engineer.

Environmental engineers help solve environmental issues surrounding human structures. Like civil engineers, environmental engineers need knowledge of soil and fluid mechanics. Other technicians with civil engineering degrees (e.g., civil engineering technologists) also contribute to civil engineering projects.

Civil engineers typically work in the public sector for local and state governments, and for large construction firms. Though some civil engineering majors work in the military, most civil engineers work in non-military civil engineering projects. They typically begin their careers with internships that help them gain real world experience.

The data below summarizes typical earnings in this field. Annual civil and environmental engineering salaries range from $51,000-$92,000.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Careers
CareerMedian Annual Wage
Environmental Engineers$96,530
Civil Engineers$89,940
Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians$59,630
Environmental Engineering Technologists and Technicians$50,980
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Questions About Civil Engineering Degrees

Is It Possible to Get a Civil Engineering Degree Online?

Yes. There are a variety of ABET-accredited online civil engineering degrees, from the associate to doctoral levels. These online degrees can prepare you for PE licensure and specializations in the discipline.

Is a Civil Engineering Degree Hard?

It can be. Civil engineers study advanced concepts in mathematics and physics in order to understand how structures can withstand environmental forces and how applied loads are built. These subjects can be challenging.

What Type of Engineer Has the Highest Salary?

The BLS reports that the highest paid engineers are petroleum engineers, who earn a median annual wage of $128,230. Computer hardware engineers are not far behind, at $115,080.

What Skills Do Civil Engineers Need?

Civil engineers need strong critical thinking skills to apply different mechanical concepts to complex systems and make sure that their designs are structurally sound. They also need strong math and written and verbal communication skills.

Portrait of Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney received his Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in English literature from Portland State. His writings on music and culture have appeared in the publications Eleven PDX Magazine and Secret Decoder. In his free time he enjoys reading, cinema, hiking, and cooking.

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